From tomorrow (November 30), the wearing of face coverings in shops in England will once again be mandatory by law.
The government is reintroducing the legislation for shops, post offices, banks and public transport as part of the new Covid Plan B rules to fight the Omicron variant of the virus.
Restrictions are being tightened after cases of the new variant were recently found in England and Scotland, with the number of people contracting the new strain expected to rise in the coming days.
In July 2020, the NFRN produced colour and black and white posters for members to display to remind customers that they must wear face masks when shopping in their store, unless they are exempt.
The posters are still available to download by clicking on the links below.
National deputy vice president Shahid Razzaq said: “The safety and wellbeing of retailers and customers is of the highest priority.
“I urge all members to download and display the posters to make sure everyone entering your store is aware of the reintroduction of face masks and that it is the law.”
Fines of £200 will be handed out to people in England who fail to wear masks in shops. The fines will double with every offence, rising to £400 for a second infraction and £800 for a third, up to a maximum of £6,400.
Download: Colour or Black and white Download: Colour or Black and white
New Covid Rules – England (November 2021)
Who should wear a mask?
A mask should be worn by all staff and customers in all branch, retail stores or close contact services, except by those people who have an exemption.
- food retailers
- hardware/homeware stores
- fashion shops
- charity shops
- betting shops and high street gambling arcades
- car dealerships
- auction houses
- antique stores
- retail art galleries
- photography studios
- gift shops and retail spaces in theatres, museums, libraries, heritage sites and tourism sites
- mobile phone stores
- indoor and outdoor markets
- craft fairs
- similar types of retail
- bank branches
- post offices
- other money businesses
Close contact services include:
- beauty and nail bars
- tattoo studios
- tanning salons or booths
- spas and wellness businesses
- sports and massage therapy
- well-being and holistic locations
- dress fitters
- fashion designers
You should also follow this guidance if you:
- provide mobile close contact services from your home or in other people’s homes
- provide close contact services in retail environments and the arts
- are studying hair and beauty in vocational training environments
Hospitality and leisure outlets (such as cafes and pubs) are excluded from the new laws.
Anyone wearing a face shield should also be wearing a face mask.
In England, children under 11 years old are exempt from wearing a facemask.
Is it the retailer’s responsibility to enforce the wearing of facemask?
Retailers have a duty to encourage the wearing of masks, but enforcement is the responsibility of the police and local authority.
Under new regulations, fines of £200 will be handed to those who fail to wear the compulsory face coverings. Fines will double with every offense.
To help meet your obligations, you should display a face mask poster that acknowledges exemptions. These poster’s can be downloaded from the NFRN website.
What should I do if a person comes into the shop not wearing a mask?
You are entitled to ask them to put a mask on or if they have an exemption. On doing so the government says you should be “mindful and respectful”.
If they refuse, it is not your responsibility to enforce the law.
If the person says they have an exemption, accept what they say. People with exemptions are not and cannot be required to prove the exemption.
Can I ban people from my store for not wearing a mask?
If you do so and the person has an exemption you and / or your staff (both as the company and as an individual) will be in breach of the Equalities Act and could face civil proceedings and a substantial fine. A number of organisations are now making standard format claims template letters available on the internet to assist those wanting to make a claim under the Equalities Act.
You may turn someone away only if they are showing signs of coronavirus (high temperature or a persistent cough)
But it is my shop!
It is and you do have a right to refuse access but NOT if the ban amounts to discrimination in the eyes of the customer.
What else can I do?
Government advice on other steps you should be taking to make your store Covid secure can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19/shops-and-branches
The government has increased its focus on good ventilation in its recent guidance.
Note: this guidance applies to England, however, the principles apply across the UK